‘Offices closed until January’, says Parliament on ATM’s litigation challenging Phala Phala vote

December 23, 2022 0 By Cypher9ja

Parliament says it has not been served with court papers as the African Transformation Movement (ATM) challenges the National Assembly’s refusal to adopt the Phala Phala farm report.

The ATM launched an urgent application this week, asking at the Western Cape High Court to review and set aside last week’s vote against the adoption of the Section 89’s report on Phala Phala.

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The party is also challenging National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s decision to reject its request to allow a secret ballot vote.

Therefore, the ATM has since asked the high court for a declaratory order that such a vote must be by secret ballot.

‘Currently on recess’

In its response to the ATM’s litigation, Parliament pointed out that MPs were on holiday.

Parliament’s spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the Privileges and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures Act of 2004 “provides that a person may not within the precincts execute or serve or tender for service any summons, subpoena or other process issued by a court without the express permission of, or in accordance with the directives of, the speaker or the chairperson or a person authorised by the speaker or the chairperson”.

“Both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces [NCOP] are currently on recess, and therefore the offices of Parliament are accordingly closed until January 2023. Parliament has, therefore, not been served with the papers by the ATM,” Mothapo said in a statement on Thursday.

READ MORE: ‘Their blood will be in your hands’ – Mente tells Mapisa-Nqakula in debate over secret ballot

He said Parliament would respond to the papers served on the State Attorneys, and an application would also be made for the timeframes to be amended.

According to reports, the ATM wants Parliament to state its intention on whether it will oppose the party’s application or not by 23 December.

The party, which initially filed the Section 89 motion in Parliament, further wants the matter to be heard in court 25 January.

All political parties in the National Assembly have been cited as respondents and can file affidavits by 13 January.

Ramaphosa came under fire recently after the Section 89 panel found that the president had a case to answer regarding the burglary at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.

The president may have violated the Constitution and anti-corruption laws, according to the panel.

Review application

Meanwhile, the ATM are also opposing Ramaphosa’s court application.

The president has asked the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) to review and set aside the Phala Phala report.

But Zungula believes that Ramaphosa has made no case for dismissing Section 89 report.

READ MORE: Ramaphosa’s ConCourt bid ‘not about avoiding accountability’

The ATM leader argued in the party court papers that the panel’s report was not reviewable because such reports were merely just recommendations, adding that the president’s application did not engage the exclusive jurisdiction of the ConCourt.

“The relief sought by the president in this application impedes Parliament [from] exercising its constitutional functions.

“The president asks this court to set aside a report before Parliament has had an opportunity to consider, deliberate and vote on whether the report should be accepted or rejected. This self-evidently undermines the work of Parliament, and in turn, the separation of powers,” the papers reads.